• AOC, with whom Musk had a Twitter spat last year, is also on the list, according to the report
  • The list reportedly came about after Musk confronted engineers over a decrease in his tweets' engagement
  • Musk previously said Twitter was all about "treating everyone equally"

The U.S. President, NBA All-Star LeBron James and commentator Ben Shapiro are just three of the 35 "VIPs" who are reportedly getting more Twitter boosting than everyone else on the social media platform.

The micro-blogging site has a different boosting standard for celebrities, including its CEO Elon Musk, independent newsletter Platformer reported. Aside from some influential people in politics, the supposed VIP list of 35 users who get increased visibility above the rest also includes sports figures, journalists and celebrities.

YouTuber MrBeast is also on the list, as well as the viral Twitter account Dril, journalist Glenn Greenwald and conservative account @catturd2. Political commentator Matthew Yglesias, comedian Jaboukie Young-White, Tesla information account @teslaownerssv and Twitter investor Marc Andreessen are also included on the list.

According to Platformer, engineers had to find a way to address Musk's concerns about high-profile accounts seeing a decrease in engagement.

"Twitter engineers say the chief executive repeatedly flags the complaints of high profile users over those of average ones, effectively forcing them to act as a highly paid customer support team for Musk and his most favored users," it stated.

Platformer added that it did not publish the full list of Twitter VIPs to protect the identity of its sources.

Twitter is also prioritizing verified accounts continuously, as per the newsletter, which echoed Musk's announcement earlier this week about the For You page recommending only verified accounts starting April 15. Users who want to vote in polls will also need to subscribe to Twitter Blue as it would be the "only realistic way to address advanced AI bot swarms taking over," according to Musk.

While many on the supposed secret list are celebrities and influencers favored by Musk, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC), D-N.Y., made her way onto it, The Verge reported. It can be recalled that Musk and AOC had an exchange of words on the platform late last year over paid Twitter Blue accounts.

The initial goal for creating the list was reportedly to monitor engagement on the top accounts. Platformer claimed that as per its sources, whenever engineers identified points in the ranking system they created that showed tweets from the VIP users were "dropping," the engineers could "tweak" the code to make sure VIP tweets were always visible on the platform.

News about the VIP list broke out days after the SpaceX founder said Twitter was all about fair treatment for all users.

"It's more about treating everyone equally. There shouldn't be a different standard for celebrities imo," Musk noted in response to Canadian actor William Shatner, who asked why he had to pay for his blue check that had been verified under the old Twitter verification process.

In February, Platformer reported that Musk's cousin woke up Twitter engineers early morning after the Super Bowl to address a "high urgency" issue.

"When bleary-eyed engineers began to log on to their laptops, the nature of the emergency became clear: Elon Musk's tweet about the Super Bowl got less engagement than President Joe Biden's," Platformer wrote at the time.

The mid-February report further revealed that engineers who were threatened with termination "built a system designed to ensure that Musk — and Musk alone — benefits from previously unheard-of promotion of his tweets to the entire user base."

Just a week earlier, Musk reportedly fired an engineer over the decrease in his tweets' engagement. The said senior engineer explained that the engagement decline could possibly be due to the waning public interest in the Twitter CEO's tweets.

Meanwhile, legacy blue check holders have criticized Twitter for its decision to remove the blue ticks of users whose accounts were verified under the previous process starting April 1.

Many users said once the new rule is implemented, there would be no way of distinguishing troll or copycat accounts from the real ones.

"This website will be unusable if imposter accounts are indistinguishable," documentarian Ford Fischer said.

In the old process, verification came at no cost and was requested by organizations or individuals who wanted to confirm their identities and make sure their accounts matched with who they said they were.

Illustration shows Elon Musk photo and Twitter logo
Musk recently told a critical William Shatner that Twitter's removal of legacy checks was about fair treatment for all users. Reuters